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DMS Specialties

Take a look at what our DMS students have to say about these emerging fields in ultrasound, when they created specialty concentration pages.

DMD abdominal sonography

What is Abdominal Sonography?

Abdominal sonography is a noninvasive imaging test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions by utilizing sound waves to visualize abdominal structures. An abdominal sonogram can help to diagnose a variety of conditions and to assess damage caused by illness. Doctors can also use abdominal sonography to guide them as they perform needle biopsies on abdominal organs. Abdominal sonography specifically focuses on structures in the upper abdomen.

How are Abdominal Ultrasound Images Obtained?

An abdominal sonogram is performed using an ultrasound machine with a transducer and coupling gel. Coupling gel is placed on the area of interest between the skin and the transducer. The coupling gel provides a bridge between the transducer and the skin. This is necessary because ultrasound cannot pass through air or bone. The transducer generates ultrasound which is directed through the coupling gel into the body. As the ultrasound wave encounters structures within the body they are reflected back toward the transducer. These echoes are then sent to the ultrasound machine as electrical signals which are then converted to an image and displayed on the monitor. These images can be recorded as digital motion clips or as still images. Due to the real time nature of sonography blood flow, blood vessels, bowel movement, and movement of internal organs from breathing can be visualized.

What type of exams are included in Abdominal Sonography?

Patients are referred for abdominal sonograms for various reasons including: abdominal pain, abnormal lab results, and enlarged abdominal organs. An abdominal ultrasound documents the abdominal organs and other structures in the upper abdomen such as the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidneys, spleen, aorta, inferior vena cava, and urinary bladder.

An abdominal sonographer will also be required to image small body parts. Small body parts include: thyroid gland, neck structures, testicles, breast, and various other soft tissue body parts. At Montgomery College the Abdominal Sonography track is taught in conjunction with Breast Sonography and the Obstetrical and Gynecological Sonography track.

Why is Abdominal Sonography used?

Abdominal sonography is a non-invasive, safe, painless, affordable, fast, and widely available imaging modality. One advantage to using ultrasound to image the abdomen over other imaging modalities is that there is no radiation exposure. This allows for multiple ultrasounds to be performed to monitor conditions or follow the progression of illness or recovery.

Real time imaging ultrasonography can be used to guide invasive procedures such as biopsy, fluid removal such as paracentesis, and to visualize bowel movement and blood flow. In case of an emergency, bedside sonography can be done without particular patient preparations.

For more information on earning potential and work environment of sonographers visit the Inside Scoop.

DMS OB-GYN sonography

What is OB/GYN Sonography?

Obstetrical and gynecological sonography, commonly referred to as OB/GYN ultrasound, is a diagnostic imaging modality specialty. Sonography obtains images of internal organs by sending sound waves into the body. The sound waves are reflected by internal structures and are returned as echoes. The echoes are then recorded and displayed as real-time visual images.

Obstetrical (OB) sonography refers to the use of ultrasound to visualize and determine the condition of a pregnant woman and her fetus. From the time of its development in the late 1950’s sonography has become a very useful diagnostic tool in Obstetrics.

Gynecological (GYN) sonography refers to the use of ultrasound to visualize organs found within the female pelvis such as the uterus and ovaries.

Why are OB/GYN Sonograms performed? 

An OB sonogram is one of the more well-known uses of sonography: examining the fetus of a pregnant woman. Ultrasound examinations are currently considered to be a safe, non-invasive, accurate and cost-effective investigation of the fetus. It has progressively become an indispensable obstetric tool and plays an important role in the care of every pregnant woman. This examination has many indications, such as: to evaluate the position of the fetus, diagnose congenital abnormalities, and to determine if there are multiple pregnancies, etc. This exam is special, because it allows parents to have their first “glimpse” of their unborn child. OB ultrasound can be used in the early diagnosis and confirmation of pregnancy. Later in pregnancy fetal body measurements will allow assessment of the size and growth of the fetus and will greatly assist in the diagnosis and management of any potential abnormalities occurring with the pregnancy. The measurements are used in the assessment of gestational age and evaluate the size and growth of the fetus.

A GYN sonogram evaluates organs found within the female pelvic region. A GYN sonogram can help identify ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, as well as any ovarian or uterine masses.  A pelvic sonogram can be done transabdominal and transvaginal/ endovaginal.  Transvaginal ultrasound is performed very much like a gynecologic exam and involves the insertion of the transducer into the vagina after the patient empties their bladder. A transvaginal ultrasound is usually performed to view the endometrium or the lining of the uterus, including its appearance, thickness, and the ovaries. Transvaginal ultrasound also provides a detailed image of the muscular walls of the uterus, called the myometrium, for evaluation. The OB/GYN track is taught in conjunction with the abdominal track in the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program at Montgomery College.

For more information on earning potential and work environment of sonographers visit the Inside Scoop.

DMS Adult Echocardiography

What is Echocardiography?

Echocardiography is an imaging technique that uses Ultrasound to examine the heart. It provides direct visualization of the cardiac chambers, walls and valves. Echocardiography is a safe, non-invasive procedure used to diagnose cardiovascular disease. Echocardiography allows doctors to visualize the anatomy, structure, and function of the heart. It provides the doctor with information about the size and shape of the heart and also how well the heart’s chambers and valves are working. It can quickly diagnose the presence and severity of heart valve problems, as well as determine abnormal flow within the heart. This window to the heart enables the doctor to diagnose a number of cardiovascular diseases and aides in determining appropriate treatment options.

What is an Echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram (also called an echo) is a type of ultrasound test that uses sound waves that are sent through a device called a transducer. The device picks up echoes of the sound waves as they bounce off the different parts of your heart. These echoes are turned into moving pictures of your heart that can be seen on the ultrasound monitor.

Different types of echocardiograms include the following:

  • Transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE): This is the most common type. Views of the heart are obtained by moving the transducer to different locations on your chest or abdominal wall.
  • Stress echocardiogram: During this test, an echocardiogram is done both before and after the heart is stressed either by having the patient exercise or by injecting a medicine that makes the heart beat harder and faster. A stress echocardiogram is usually done to find out if a patient might have decreased blood flow to their heart.
  • Doppler echocardiogram: This test is used to look at how blood flows through the heart chambers, heart valves, and blood vessels. The movement of the blood reflects sound waves to a transducer. The echocardiographer measures the direction and speed of the blood flowing through your heart and blood vessels. Doppler measurements may be displayed in black and white or in color.
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE): For this test, the probe is passed down the esophagus instead of being moved over the outside of the chest wall. TEE shows clearer pictures of your heart, because the probe is located closer to the heart and because the lungs and bones of the chest wall do not block the sound waves produced by the probe. A sedative and an anesthetic applied to the throat are used to make you comfortable during this test.
    Completion of the Montgomery Community College Echo track will prepare you to sit for the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) examination and become a credentialed RDCS (Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer).

For more information about earning potential and work environment for sonographers, visit the Inside Scoop.

DMS Vascular Sonography

What Is Vascular Sonography?

Vascular sonography is the process of using high-pitched sound waves to study the blood vessels of the body. An ultrasound image is a useful way of evaluating the body's circulatory system. Ultrasound images are captured in real-time, so they can help physicians monitor the blood flow to organs and tissues throughout the body. With ultrasound images, physicians can locate and identify blockages (stenosis) and abnormalities like blood clots, plaque or emboli, and help plan for their effective treatment. Vascular technologists assist physicians in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of disorders affecting the vascular system (excluding the heart).

What is a Vascular Sonogram?

  • Ultrasound instrumentation is most commonly used, transmitting high frequency sound waves into the body and reflecting off the vessels of interest. The reflected sound waves are processed to form high resolution, two-dimensional images of the blood vessels (2D B-mode imaging) and/or to measure the speed and direction of the blood (Doppler Ultrasound). Instruments with the capability of acquiring both ultrasound imaging and Doppler information are referred to as duplex scanners.
  • The blood vessels most often studied are the vessels of the abdomen (visceral ultrasound), the arteries leading up the neck and into the brain (cerebrovascular ultrasound), and the veins and arteries of the legs and arms (peripheral ultrasound).
  • Visceral Vascular Ultrasound is a blood flow (Doppler ultrasound) study. Duplex technology has the ability to create ultrasound images of the blood vessels. This method also allows the speed of blood flow   to be determined within these vessels. Using this Method, physicians can diagnose atherosclerosis or thickening of blood vessel’s wall, renovascular hypertension due to stenosis within renal arteries, and aneurysm or weakening of arterial walls.
  • Cerebrovascular Ultrasound: This test involves the technician placing an ultrasound probe over the great vessels of the head and neck. It provides information on whether there is a narrowing in the carotid arteries which supply blood to the brain. A carotid duplex ultrasound is performed to evaluate symptoms, including dizziness, loss of memory, stroke, loss of muscle control and other findings that might result from narrowing or blockage of the vessels (carotid arteries) on either side of the neck.
  • Peripheral Arterial ultrasound: In this study, sound waves are used to listen to blood flow (Doppler ultrasound) or image the arteries to obtain information about arterial blood flow in the extremities. Exercise may be included in the test to assess the tolerance, limitation, and symptoms experienced with exercise.
  • Peripheral Venous Doppler Ultrasound: This study involves the assessment of the veins of either the arms, legs. This study involves the assessment of the veins of either the arms or legs. The most common reason for a venous ultrasound exam is to search for blood clots, especially in the veins of the leg. These clots may break off and pass into the lungs, where they can cause a dangerous condition called pulmonary embolism. If found in time, there are treatments that can prevent this from happening.

For more information about earning potential and work environments for sonographer visit The Inside Scoop